As we approach the end of the 2010s, we’ve been looking back on the artists, albums and tracks that have influenced electronic music’s evolution into where it stands today. Through our many discussions, we’ve found that there is no one “right” list for this.
Within our EDMTunes team, many of us found our electronic music bearings at the start of this decade. We had our own upbringings through different artists and genres, each of which were influential in their own right. So we came together and compiled our own list of unsung heroes we felt may not have made the list of the most popular, famous EDM DJs from the 2010s – but have had a massive impact on electronic music in their own way.
Read who four of our editors – ones, we might add, come from all walks of life and are passionate about an array of musical niches with their own unique paths – believe deserve the spotlight of the decade.
Eric Prydz has had a huge influence on DJs across the dance music spectrum. From Adam Beyer to Grum and Armin van Buuren, you’d be hard-pressed to find a DJ that doesn’t count Eric as one of their biggest influences. His EPIC live show began in 2011 and has captivated the world. It has since iterated all the way to EPIC 6.0 Holosphere ion 2019, in addition to spawning new versions like HOLO. His live shows set a standard that inspired plenty of other DJs to try their hand at holograms, lasers, and other technological advances.
Steve Angello is the wild child of the Swedish House Mafia trio and has plenty of legendary tracks tied to his name alone. Axwell and Ingrosso made our original list, and obviously so did SHM, but Steve Angello has a die-hard following that has been with him for years. The renowned “Knas” was released in 2010 and the tracks still bangs in live sets in 2019. Beyond that, Steve curated the exceptional SIZE record label that spearheaded the progressive house movement that caused the EDM groundswell in the 2011-2014 period. After 2013 Steve continued playing festivals, but his solo albums charted a new path for his sound.
You can’t talk about techno in the 2010s without talking about Richie Hawtin. He’s been one of the most prominent icons of the techno world since the 1990s, coming out of the second wave of the Detroit techno scene that laid the foundation for today’s genre. With the exponential popularity spike of the genre in the 2010s, he has absolutely continued to sit at the forefront of techno’s evolution. The fact that an artist can, and continues to remain, such an influential figure in the space for a decade+ speaks miles. He was first seen as a leader of techno’s growth in the early 2010s and further exemplified his dominance with the “business techno” movement seen globally over the last few years. This hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Hawtin was nominated for Best Techno DJ 5 times in the last ten years and came in at 2nd on The DJ List’s Top Global Techno list in 2015.
Let’s look at French electronic music next. Remember that this genre would not have the global presence it holds today without two of its original leaders. Let’s talk about Justice and Daft Punk (well, duh).
Justice laid much of the groundwork for French electronic music as they shaped their own sound over the years. They exploded into the scene in the late 2000s, then continued to dominate as the 2010s hit. They released their sophomore album “Audio, Video, Disco” in the fall of 2011, hit the main stages at Coachella, Ultra and Outside Lands in 2012, and released a third album titled Woman in 2016. They showed no signs of slowing down as the decade went on, either. The band received a Grammy for the Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2019 for Woman Worldwide, a release of remixes on French label Ed Banger. The duo’s innovate combination of trippy synths, powerful basslines and beats – influenced by an eclectic combination of disco, funk, electro house and so much more – will undoubtedly keep us in awe for years to come.
And, of course, there’s Daft Punk. Though they first came together back in the 1990s, the revival of their much-loved sound reached an entirely new generation of electronic music lovers in the 2010s. They brought disco back to a world of younger, budding music lovers in an incredible way. Their hit track “Get Lucky” was released in 2013 and, at one point, was reported by Spotify as their most-streamed new song in the platform’s history. Random Access Memories, their fourth studio album, came out in 2013 – which included “Get Lucky” as one of its five tracks. It became the first Daft Punk album to hit the top of the Billboard charts, and won Album of the Year, Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Engineered Album in 2014. Even today, the men behind the helmets continue to stand as one of the most iconic duos in electronic music history.
Juan Carlos Llorens
Many would argue that Tiësto‘s best years ended by 2010, right before he made the switch to commercial EDM. However, known as the godfather of EDM, Tiësto has brought up the biggest artists today. Through his label Musical Freedom, Tijs shed light at Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Avicii, The Chainsmokers, Danny Avila, and many more in the last ten years. Either through his Club Life podcast, his label, or collaborations Tiësto gave these ‘unknown’ artists one point or another a platform. Other than igniting the next generation of artists, Tiësto has been headlining almost every major festival. DJing wise, he is one of the best to do it.
Hardwell sparked a movement in the early 2010s like no one else. Breaking through with the legendary ‘Spaceman’ single, Hardwell pushed the ‘big room’ movement into every festival. By creating his label ‘Revealed Recordings’, Hardwell introduced the world with many new artists who are still relevant today. As many sold-out towards pop, Hardwell doubled down with big room. Hardwell made an impact in the last decade giving artists a platform, pushing a trend (even many hate it), and staying true to EDM.
I know, I know. David Guetta doesn’t really seem like an unsung hero. With the Frenchman still selling out massive shows and headlining festivals, Guetta is still a solidified household name in dance music. What people may not know- or remember for that matter- is the mainstream doors Guetta helped blow wide open. His 2011 album, Nothing But the Beat, was nothing short of monumental for the genre. Featuring massive pop stars like Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Sia, Jennifer Hudson and more, this was really the first time a DJ merged dance and pop and opened the doors to the mainstream world for the rest of the decade. In today’s EDM scene, when we see new artists like Marshmello or The Chainsmokers make radio hits with today’s biggest popstars, we can credit David Guetta for opening those doors for today’s generation.
Steve Aoki may seem like the dude that just throws cake at fans during his shows, but Aoki is actually one of the hardest working guys in the industry. Not only Steve Aoki continuously made hits throughout the decade, but he’s also shown that DJs can stick their hands in other lines of work and be successful. Aoki runs his own clothing line, a pizza chain, and of course music label- Dim Mak- showing that the scope of a DJ’s work can expand outside of music. His engagement with his fans has also been something unique. He has also given a massive platform for up-and-coming DJs to release their music on, giving new DJ’s a channel to release their music to a broader range of fans. It’s tough to look back on the 2010s and not think of the name, “Steve Aoki”.